Feminism becomes the 2017 word of the year

Published On December 12, 2017 | By Hayley Barnes | News

 By: Daniel Caudle

Merriam-Webster dictionary has unveiled ‘Feminism’ as the 2017 word of the year.

The word of the year is chosen based on the significant impact, importance or expression the word has had in influencing the public within a year.

Searches for feminism have increased 70 per cent since 2016 according to Merriam-Webster.com, with spikes in searches corresponding to various events recorded by the media throughout the year.

The word spiked several times after key events according to Peter Sokolowski, the company’s editor, in an interview with the Associated Press before the annual word of the year was revealed on Tuesday.

Events including the Women’s Marches around the world, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and coverage of Canada’s self-declared feminist Prime Minister boosted the usage of the word within the public sphere.

The #MeToo campaign which rose from allegations against Harvey Weinstein prompted women around the world to break the silence about their abusers. This lead to the “silence breakers” being featured on the cover of TIME Magazine.

“I think, as we know, sexual harassment has been kept in the closet a long time,” said the president of the National Council of Women Canada Sandra Cohen-Rose. “It wasn’t reported, women were afraid to report it.”

For the last few years ‘feminism’ has been in Merriam-Webster’s top 10 words of the year, but has finally gained the recognition after losing to ‘surreal’ which was the word of the year last year.

“[Feminism] empowers women and is against sexual harassment, and discrimination. A lot of people didn’t understand this, but now looking at it the see they are equal partners, said Cogen-Rose.”

The first account of the word feminism came from Noah Webster when he entered the word into the dictionary in 1841 with the definition: “the qualities of females.”

The word has since evolved and has taken on the definition: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”


The runner-up words of the year were:

  • Complicit
  • Recuse
  • Empathy
  • Dotard
  • Syzygy
  • Gyro
  • Federalism
  • Hurricane
  • Gaffe

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